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Poems by Beverly (Horowtiz) Armstrong

Beverly's Suzuki Stories - Beverly's cuke page


Six Poems by Beverly

A Film - Evening - Rags - Deer - 40 Years Later, - Still


A Film

Tucked between the whirling

stars in this improbable

membrane, we moist entities.

Incongruent bobble, thinking,

feeling, translucing over

outside inside edge, a mere

surface. A film. A bit of operatic

scum. So sad. No quantum consolation.

Beyond astonishment, itís good

as over. Breath on glass in winter

light. Scuffling of beings to the brightest

slices, most articulated crimp.


Evening

Snow levels down

angles, corners; even

movers donít move.

A white evening.

Leftover robins puff

in bramble niches.

New morning after

last crystal lights

its branch. Just so toe

scratches of squirrel

powders over, no

evidence of anything.

Compost snow domed

and no memory. Easy

indoors mind says such

things. Outdoors breath

a particle field, no

longer imaginary.

 


Rags

What to do with rags, torn

underwear, holed socks? A pair

where one is whole, the other

gapped. No away at the dump

anymore. The. The. Though

some pretend. All old attachments

shooed through, restitched again,

again. No dice, Albert. Strings,

tied, retied, played, unplayed.

Infinite vibrato. A gust clacking

flat aspen. Long lines of nothings

strung. Thrash of wings as crows

uprise all together now out

of stalk stubble, drained grass.

Someone has made them out

of black rags, they wind silky

in drafts, plying air like slipped

gloves, flags. Maybe itís I who made

them, mind-needled fabric flow

out of whatever i have before

they come back low and only crow.

 


Mt. Hood Daffodils

Late November, planting leftover

daffodils in what will be zucchini

bed, spade forked already. They

may not grow from dessication,

age, gesture futile. Tomorrow snow

packs in, a whirl. Plan isnít possible,

so now i cozy them in, using body

weight to tamp haphazard soil. Attention

is what gives ground, beyond hope.

Nothing should be leftover, and dirt

sees to it. Behind ragged mountain,

last rays boil up, suckling clouds. Soon

sun returns, an optical illusion, a twist

in space, earth rolling in its gravity

well. Heart takes in this fragile time,

swelling to the repetitions, totally

deluded glow that this is home.


Deer

We called it a cold

but actually it was

weeping. What about?

Nothing beyond daily

spiders eight-footing

the shower. A slow

drip of plumbing. Back

in sunshine days i had

a moment of complete

inattention. How can i

forget bug eyes of half

grasshopper in layers

of kale? Most acute

for me is bewilderment,

the way my fatherís

hands flailed space

after his son died. At

a loss, left your party

out into conifers, stands

of ferned bay laurel,

immersed myself in

a deer herd, moving

tender toed through

moss and evening. Moon

and i understand each

other, caught between

forces, cool and one only.

 


40 Years Later,

you still rough up

mindís edges. If roshi was a flow

of wood grain (going across, as he

taught, never to or away

from you), rinpoche was jagged

rock, soft cored, adventurous

exploration of upaya. Hereís

a moment: Iím going up stairs

to change from kitchen clothes

to robes; am expected to hit bells,

mokugyo for Rebís ordination.

Meet Alan Marlowe coming down,

fresh and shining from head shaving

with Janet. Below is Chogyam

Trungpa Rinpoche, looking up,

waiting for Suzuki roshi, loose-

shirted at garden double doors.

Heís just sitting. I feel electric shock

through spine and turn down

to him. Eyes meet and i see and

am seen beyond any depth before

or since. No words. Then i go my

way and he goes his. Have always

wondered what would have happened

if iíd turned then. Maybe

iíd have flown the stairs,

maybe nothing would be different,

maybe everything. Who cares? So what?

He told me later, when i missed my teacher,

that roshi is everywhere. And roshi

told me once that mind is everywhere.

So is there any coming or going?

Of all the people on those stairs,

only iím alive. Am i to blame? Like

a wire. Like a moment left in space

still conducting something, something,

nothing. Even now i can feel

your glowing, indifferent eyes.


Still

An act of terrorism begins so far

away from this toe in the ground

we canít fathom it. And yet weíre

there 1,000 moments a day. Have

you never felt inner crippled self

trying to escape? any twist will do.

A 1950s joke: god, please make

this hand like the other. We imagine

heavens full of unimaginable: a god

in a sky. A ramís horn of what we

wish. All those horses. Our dead child.

Women plying male dreams, female

rain. What will it take for you to sit

still? Still. Build nothing. Dismantle

pain avoiding toys, including god,

cars. Here is not the best place ever,

few actual virgins, bees ask payment

for honey. Here is enough for study,

For noticing. Here is unobscured

ground, enough sadness for any

lifetime, enough ecstasy. Just

not so simple sun firing up every

day. Not enough pyrotechnics?

Leaves squirm underfoot, readying.

Such a little film we live in, so many

swimmers. Why isnít it enough, our

microscopic slice of everything?